Fortnite Pens a Playground LTM Postmortem

So, the Playground mode of Fortnite came and went, and not without a few bumps along the way. That’s the subject of a Fortnite Playground postmortem written by the shooter’s devs as they detail what happened and what they’ve done to make the mode’s next arrival better.

fortnite playground postmortem

As everyone is well aware by now, the game’s matchmaking service (MMS) was the root cause. Specifically, the game’s MMS had to process more requests to get into an open match – between 25 and 100 times as many requests as it normally takes, which ended up overwhelming the system.

In order to fix it, the MMS had to be completely restructured during the shutdown period of the mode. The work has reportedly paid off as the new system was able to withstand millions of theoretical users during internal testing.

“In short, we learned a lot about our own matchmaking system and its failure points,” reads the post. “We were forced to make significant emergency upgrades to our Matchmaking Service, but these changes will serve the game well as we continue to grow and expand our player base into the future.”

Our Thoughts

Game dev for a live-service multiplayer title never really ends, especially on the technical front. Overall, though, we’re glad that the adjustments made by the Fortnite team will mean a better game overall. Of course, that remains to be truly tested once Playground opens again.

Source: official site

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Dauntless Shares Details of The Coming Storm Update

The folks at Dauntless have kind of teased the fact that The Coming Storm update for the online multiplayer critter slasher is coming, but that’s kind of it. Now, however, the team has pulled back a bit of the curtain on what’s next for the reported 2 million fans of the game.

the coming storm update

The Coming Storm will arrive, apparently, with a rather literal bang as a massive Ostian Dreadnaught will crash into the gathering hub city of Ramsgate. Along with essentially changing the face of the location, this new arrival will bring new NPCs with new stories and quests for players.

Of course, in a game about hunting Behemoths, no update would be complete without a fresh terror to attack and The Coming Storm is providing with the arrival of Koshai, the Sovereign of Thorns. This creature’s arrival is so dramatic that it will even have some effect on the other Behemoths of the game, with promise of new forms of classic beasts to keep Slayers on their toes.

Facing down these new threats will require new gear, but mercifully the arrival of the Ostian Dreadnaught will bring plenty of new equipment for players to use. The Coming Storm will introduce new Grenades for players to huck at Behemoths, new weaponry and armor, and the all-new Ostian Repeaters ranged weapon.

All of this is due to arrive to Dauntless’ open beta on Thursday, August 9th.

Our Thoughts

Well, smashing a huge airship into your primary hub town is definitely one way to let players know the new content has arrived! We’re definitely looking forward to seeing more of what this new update will offer and expect further details as the weeks press on towards this release.

Source: press release

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WHO Closer to Classifying Gaming Addiction as a Mental Health Condition

In spite of the arguments of physicians, the World Health Organization has included gaming disorder as a mental health condition in its 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD for short, which has prompted a strong response to say the least.

gaming disorder

According to Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, gaming disorder has three major diagnostic characteristics: putting gaming behavior ahead of other activities; an inability to stop gaming behavior even if negative consequences are felt; and a degradation or impairment of personal, social or occupational function.

“[The WHO is following] the trends, the developments, which have taken place in populations and in the professional field,” says Dr. Poznyak. “I’m not creating a precedent.”

Of course, there are those within both the gaming industry and medical field who disagree with the inclusion of gaming habits as a mental condition. Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director of a non-profit mental health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, called the addition of gaming disorder “premature” and that gaming is often used as a tool to reduce anxiety and depression. “When anxiety and depression is dealt with, the gaming goes down significantly,” said Bean.

The Entertainment Software Association has issued a statement in reaction to the ICD, pointing out that the new edition is still in a draft state and that the WHO should consider more inclusive and deeper study before finalizing the diagnosis.

“The research supporting inclusion is highly contested and inconclusive. There is no objective evidence to define and diagnose overuse and that may result in misdiagnosis,” reads part of the statement. “The WHO should consider the mounting evidence put before them before inclusion next year of ‘gaming disorder’ in the final version of ICD-11.”

Our Thoughts

Yes, there are undoubtedly aspects of video gaming that are addictive. It’s literally the crux of argument against loot boxes. With that said, and as often seems to be the case with many mental health matters, there’s a lot more nuance than whatever blanket diagnosis the ICD-11 is proposing and the risk of misdiagnosis is pretty significant, not to mention the alarmist pieces that suddenly gain new vindication.

Sources: CNN, Gamespot

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Launch Day Patch Notes for Conan Exiles are Online

It’s been a long ride but today’s the day: Conan Exiles is now officially released and, as expected, the game’s arrival has come with the usual pomp and circumstance, including a launch trailer, a word from the game’s creative director and some Conan Exiles patch notes.

conan exiles patch notes

The patch notes provide greater details of the three major additions to Conan Exiles with today’s launch: the goddess of fertility and death Derketo, the volcanic region to the north, and the new swampy region along the east.

Followers of Derketo will get a number of unique abilities such as the ability to transform poison into honey or craft healing and empowering potions. These items are crafted using extracts harvested from fallen enemies using a special knife known as Derketo’s Kiss, while further devotion to Derketo will unlock additional abilities and the ability to craft a special sword.

As for the volcano and swamp regions, these new areas are part of a map expansion that sees the landmass of Conan Exiles grow from 15 square kilometers to 40 square kilometers. The volcano is described as an area with powerful secrets and encounters meant for higher-level players, while the swamp introduces new monsters and locations to explore for those level 20-40.

Conan Exiles creative director Joel Bylos offered a few words of thanks to the players in a letter written today, honoring those who have ridden out the game’s development process:

“To the modders, the streamers, the wiki editors, the youtubers, the exploit hunters and above all, the players – it has been a humbling experience to work with you all. The entire Conan Exiles development team says thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We’ve learned together, grown together and hopefully, we’ll go on to conquer the world together.”

The complete patch notes can be read here while the launch day trailer is embedded below.

Our Thoughts

Derketo sounds like an amazing addition to the Conan Exiles pantheon, even if her avatar is pretty horrifying. We’d once again like to congratulate the development team of Conan Exiles for achieving a final release and hope that everyone hopping into the land of Hyboria has a great time.

Sources: official forums, official site

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The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset – A Tour of Shimmerene and the Surrounding Area

At long last, Summerset (hinted at in lore and shown on numerous maps) has been opened to the public and now, for the very first time, all Elder Scrolls players can get a glimpse of the Altmer homeland. If you’re one of the lucky ones who have purchased the expansion and are waiting to take your first steps onto the island, you’re in luck. I’ve taken the time to tour the city of Shimmerene, the first location you will be seeing when you click the wayshrine or start a new character.

A Haven for New Characters

Before I get into what you are going to find as you take your time end explore the city of Shimmerene, I want to take some time to address the fact that the starting area has changed once again for new players. Just as with Morrowind, the starting area for new players is the new expansion, and as per the One Tamriel update, the game will easily accommodate you whether you are a seasoned veteran or a raw beginner. If you are a new player, once you finish the Summerset content, the game will send you on your way to experience everything else that Tamriel has to offer.

 

Entering Shimmerene

When you first spawn in you will want to take a minute to absorb the scenery; the developers have put a lot of work into the expansion and it shows. The textures are pretty, the sound is amazing, and most importantly, Shimmerene seems to be more lifelike than most other locations in the game. As you walk down the streets you can see NPC’s walking about, minding their own business as before, but you will also see more interaction between them. Bards, for example, often play in groups and play music that you actually want to hear. Anything that causes a player to stop holding W for a few minutes has to be a good thing – this is an entire world, after all; stop to enjoy it from time to time!

NPC’s Around the City

Tholindlor – Stables

Right after you step out of the Wayshrine you’ll want to make your way to speak to Tholindlor by the stables. He’s the NPC that can help you level up your riding skills, even though he doesn’t seem to have anything terribly interesting to say.

Hirenariel – Your General Goods Store

I don’t know about you, but the moment I step into a new city my first thought is “Okay, where can I buy things? Actually no, where can I sell all of this useless stuff I picked up in the field?” Shimmerene has you covered – the store is right up from the Wayshrine.

Curinure – Mages Guild

Moving away from the stores, we have the Mages Guild which is currently accepting players from all walks of life. If you are not currently a member, Curinure will explain the guild mission which, at your level, involves collecting lore books to build up your reputation. Summerset has an all-new collection of books for you to find, one of which can be found near some ruins to the west of Shimmerene.

Aicessar – Fighter’s Guild

Aicessar still seems to be in mourning over the death of his guildmaster but a quick dialogue with him will reveal that the new guildmaster is the Argonian, Sees All Colors. If you aren’t a new player, then that name should seem very familiar to you, and a great nod to Zenimax’s dedication to lore continuity.

Ancelhros – Bazaar

For new players, there isn’t much to do here but you can buy a backpack upgrade for 400 gold.

There are a few other NPC’s floating around who you will need to speak to, but if you want to see some interesting scenery, make sure you stop by Quorarian’s table up on the north side of the city and wander through the small hedge maze.

Noteworthy City Locations

The NPC’s out in the open make for some interesting conversation, but if you really want to get to the heart of the issues that are plaguing the island, then you’re going to need to go indoors. There are three major locations that you need to see, starting with Anchors Aweigh Inn.

Anchors Aweigh Inn

In your exploration of the city, you will come across Anchors Aweigh Inn one way or another – it’s a massive pub that somehow only features a few rooms, though some of the comic relief makes it worth a visit.

Cuileril – General Store

If you’re looking for general goods, make sure you talk to Cuileril, near the bar area in the inn.

Riharai

It’s a bar, so naturally, there would be a brewer. You can find Rihari in the main room and she’ll sell you all the spirits you want. Please don’t drink and mount.

Garikh

On the ground floor of the Inn you’ll run into Garikh, who wanders from room to room. If you speak to him, he’ll mention that he’s hoping for passage to Lillandril.

Helummar

For some amusement, talk to this NPC and he’ll tell you that he wanted a high elf section of the tavern, but his request was denied. Instead, the owner simply placed a few dividers around him, probably hoping to keep him from annoying the other customers.

There isn’t too much to do in the inn other than buying and selling merchandise, but you can have a seat and listen to Endolile play her lute by the fire. Once again, they really have gone above and beyond to build the atmosphere and make the world seem a little bit more alive.

Kinlady Avinisse’s Mansion

I didn’t run into the lady herself but I did enter her home and find some disturbing literature. The first piece of parchment I found sat by the fire and it was a news bulletin detailing how Summerset should now be free and open to the public. Later, I located a journal written by Kinlady Avinisse regarding how she wants Summerset kept pure and free of outsiders. If you choose to go downstairs, you’ll find an interesting dungeon area and one can only imagine what she’s been doing down there in her spare time. If you explore the area further you will find an entrance to the city sewers, which you would have found anyway by following a very obviously placed questline on the path up to the mansion. I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

Monastery of Serene Harmony

You will probably not find a more obviously named monastery in all of Tamriel, and you will quickly find that you’re not quite welcome here. An Alderach protector will constantly yell at you, telling you to get out, and all manner of other nasty things. If you continue walking around the monastery, however, you will be able to browse the bookshelves, which disappointingly have only one book per shelf. Still, you can read them to level up certain skills, so make sure you check it out.

Outside the City

Eventually, you’ll have to move past Shimmerene and explore the world around you, though admittedly there is quite a bit of wilderness out there, and it’s some of the most beautiful wilderness in the game. It’s no wonder they wanted to keep this place to themselves.

You can exit the city to the west and walk down a path to meet Calibar, an NPC who is clearly upset about the island being opened up to visitors. A discussion with him will unload all of his angst onto you, the poor unsuspecting player, and then he will offer the quest ‘The Queen’s Decree’, which we will speak no more on.

If you don’t feel like following Calibar’s epic questline right out of the gate, then you can head to the west and check out the Ruins of Elven Forces and Archon’s Grove. Once there, you can speak to Captain Telomure who will tell you the story of how his squad was ambushed and as the sole survivor, he is now forced to bear the shame. If you feel like racking up some experience points or just diving into a dungeon, you can take his quest and head into the ruin to recover a pearl that supposedly has immense power.

This brand new chapter to The Elder Scrolls Online accomplishes a number of things. First of all, it gives new players a fresh starting zone that allows them to experience all of the new content. Secondly, it makes that content available to players whether they are max level or just starting out. Did I mention that it looks absolutely gorgeous? I found myself running around and exploring different areas just for the sake of it, rather than running in a straight line and trying to burn through every quest in the main storyline that I could find. All in all, this is a compelling experience, and one that should do all Elder Scrolls players justice in the portrayal of Summerset – an area that has long been neglected by developers at Bethesda.

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TERA Adds Godsfall to PC and Ruinous Manor to Console

A pair of new TERA content updates have arrived to the action MMO: one specifically for the PC players and one that helps console players get a little closer to parity. In the Godsfall update, PC players will get to travel back in time and unlock potent new skills, while console players are getting their invitation to the Ruinous Manor.

tera content updates

We’ll start on the console side of things first; the Ruinous Manor encounter is a max-level dungeon that features three powerful BAMs to face. Players skilled enough to see themselves through to the end will be rewarded with rare set items and high-tier crafting materials needed to create end game Ambush gear.

For PC players, Godsfall will send players through a time-traveling quest line that has their avatar facing their personal demons in order to take on the powerful dragon Khemadia. Following this quest chain will unlock potent new Apex Skills for six of the game’s classes, while the other six will get their own Apex Skills at a later time but still earn the benefit of a new passive that ramps up their overall damage output. The update has also seen a pass across all class skills with a number of tweaks.

Both updates are now live for whichever edition of TERA you play. Patch notes for the Godsfall update are on the forums and details about the new Apex Skills are here, while a brief look at the Ruinous Manor can be seen in the video below.

Our Thoughts

Yep, that’s a lot of new hotness coming to TERA players. While it’d be nice if there was a bit more parity between console and PC versions, we’re not going to balk too loudly at seeing new content updates, especially if it gives high level TERA fans something to enjoy.

Sources: press releases

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MMO Money: Breaking Records and Taking Names

Grand Theft Auto V makes the news, there have been fines for shady lootbox practices, and the digital games industry is still climbing. You’ll be able to find all of this plus more Fortnite news than you can shake a stick at in today’s MMO Money, the biweekly column that takes a look at online gaming industry business news from around the world.

 

GTA V is the Most Profitable

With $6 billion in revenue since it launched in 2013, GTA V is the most profitable piece of entertainment of all time. That’s more than Avatar brought in at the theater and more than Michael Jackson made with Thriller. It owes at least some of its longevity to the online multiplayer gameplay. The fact that it has been released on two generations of consoles is also a big boost for the game, as many players would have bought it twice. Want to know more? Check out what we said about it in a recent news post.

 

Superdata’s February Research

Just a day after the last MMO Money went live Superdata released their regular look at the month before for the games industry. You’ll never guess which games were the most talked about. Oh, did you guess Fortnite and PUBG? I guess it was kind of obvious, as that’s all anyone is talking about these days! Fortnite was the 6th highest grossing game in February on PC and the 3rd highest on console. It’s also still climbing, so don’t think we’re at the peak yet. Tencent’s mobile game QQ Speed has become one of the fastest climbing mobile titles, it launched in December and is already in the number two spot.

Digital spending in the US is up 21%. Most of that growth is from console spending. And yes, Fortnite is to thank for some of that as well. Also, social games and pay to play games are still shrinking year on year. The good news though is that the digital game market has grown 6% in the last year to $9.1 billion.

 

Bluehole Announces Record Year

It won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone to learn that Bluehole, the folks behind TERA and a little unknown game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds had a record-breaking year in 2017. Their revenue for the year was approximately $631 million with $240 million in profit. Much of the company’s success is thanks to PUBG, which sold over 30 million copies in their first year since launch.

 

Fortnite Mobile Revenue Exceeds $15 Million in Less Than a Month

Since dropping the invite-only requirement, Fortnite Mobile has seen a massive spike in popularity. Daily revenue is at $1.8 million, making me think that I’m in the wrong business. It’s in the iOS top ten in 23 countries. All of this is only going to get bigger when Fortnite Mobile eventually releases on Android.

 

Netmarble Invests in K-Pop Label

online gaming industry business news

Netmarble is now the second largest shareholder in Big Hit, the label behind one of the biggest K-Pop acts at the moment, BTS. They announced back in February that they were working on a game based on the band called BTS World. They’ve invested around $190 million USD. They’ve also announced that as part of their big push into the West they’re moving their US office to Los Angeles. Their US office is currently in Buena Park, which is near Anaheim. So, for anyone who doesn’t live in Southern California the change is pretty insignificant in terms of distance. For anyone wondering, it’s 22 miles which is anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour away when driving.

 

Pokemon Go Fest Lawsuit Settled for $1.6 Million

pokemon go fest

Niantic is going to reimburse travel costs for those who traveled to Pokemon Go Fest last year in Chicago. This includes airfare, hotel costs, and car rentals, amongst other things. To qualify for a reimbursement you need to have checked in on the app at the festival and if you’re claiming more than $107 in expenses you must provide receipts. Niantic was quick to apologize after the disastrous event and at the time promised to refund tickets as well as give $100 worth of in-game currency and a legendary Pokemon. But the event was much more popular than they expected so tickets, which were originally selling for $20 were getting scalped for as much as $500. Fans traveled from all over the world to attend the event, something which will easily be more than $107. So, the lesson here is to always save those receipts.

 

Kakao Gets $9.42 million Investment

online gaming industry business news

Chinese developer Shanda Games has invested $9.42 million in Kakao Games. This was done through their Korean subsidiary Actoz Soft who Kakao is currently working with to launch Dragon Nest. This is just the latest in a series of investments made by companies in Kakao ahead of a planned IPO. Other investments recently have been from companies like Netmarble and Tencent. It isn’t clear yet when this IPO is going to happen, at the moment it’s thought to be happening sometime in 2018.

 

Lootbox Fines Handed out in South Korea

Sudden Attack

South Korea is the hero we all wish we had in our gaming lives. They’re handing out fines for dishonest lootbox practices, showing the world how things should be. They’ve handed out fines to Nexon, Netmarble, and Next Floor so far. In all, the three companies were fined nearly a million dollars combined, with the biggest fine going to Nexon for $875,000. What games did Nexon get hit for? You may be wondering, they were Sudden Attack and Counter-Strike Online 2. Specifically, the companies were fined for deceiving players and not providing accurate odds for winning any particular prize in a lootbox. Who is Next Floor? I had to look up the answer to this question myself. It would seem that they make mobile and social games in South Korea, including Dragon Flight, Destiny Child, World of Tactics, and Knights of Clan, as well as a few others. Right now we have our fingers crossed that these fines catch on around the world.

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Rocket League Releases the Tournaments Update

The entire point of Rocket League’s gameplay is competition, but up until recently that competition has been a simple one-and-done affair, which might be leaving some players of the car-driven soccer title wanting more, especially if they’re fans of the RLCS. Enter the Rocket League Tournaments update.

rocket league tournaments update

As the update’s name suggest, Tournaments will let players piece together their own bracketed, team-based tournaments. These tourneys can either be private or public and will include all the game modes you’d want including Soccar, Snow Day, Hoops, Rumble or Dropshot. Tournaments can also have Mutators that change variables like arena gravity and ball size.

In addition to custom-built tourneys, the update also introduces features like connection quality indicators to signal issues like packet loss or latency issues, a chat ban system that holds hands with the game’s existing language ban and reporting systems, visual and performance upgrades for the Nintendo Switch version, and a new Battle Car among others.

The Tournaments update is available now for the game on all platforms that have cars playing soccer. Full information can be found on the update’s landing page.

Our Thoughts

Honestly, with as many esports events as Rocket League has, it’s kind of remarkable that this sort of update didn’t arrive sooner. That said, better late than never, certainly. We hope that players have a great time in their own custom-built mini-tournaments!

Source: press release

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The Guild Wars 2 Crimson Assassin Achievement was a Mistake

The achievement hunting players of Guild Wars 2 have recognized a bit of an issue with the Crimson Assassin achievement. Namely, the fact that actually earning said achievement would take approximately five real-life human years to complete – something that ArenaNet has agreed is an oversight.

crimson assassin achievement

According to one Reddit post, the red SAB weapon skins cost a total of 200 Crimson Assassin tokens to get the full set of 16, which is the only way one can get the Crimson Assassin achievement and subsequent backpack reward. Combined with the limited token earnings per day and the fact that Super Adventure Festival is also limited, that adds up to players getting the achievement by 2021, assuming many dailies aren’t missed.

One of the devs has responded to the matter, admitting that this achievement isn’t quite meant to be so…uh…long-term. “We kept it on standard with the other SAB backpack (SABackpack?) collections, but didn’t really consider the sort of pressure this would apply to you,” reads the response.

Unfortunately, the devs are unable to make any adjustments to the achievement as of right now while the festival is running for fear of ruining every player’s achievement progression. That said, they are looking into a solution that will not require players to get all 16 Crimson Assassin weapon skins to earn the Crimson Assassin achievement.

Our Thoughts

It’s a shame that they’re not able to hotfix the problem quite so easily, but at least they’re aware that is indeed a problem and are going to work on a solution. Because, seriously, five years or so is a really long time to wait for a backpack skin.

Source: Guild Wars 2 subreddit

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Dauntless Tweaks Behemoths, Axes and Islands in Latest Update

There’s another monster slaying multiplayer title out there and its name is Dauntless, which has gotten a pretty significant update recently. The Evolving Wilds update has introduced new combos for axe users to take advantage of, a new way to traverse the islands, and a variety of tweaks to the game’s Behemoths.

evolving wilds update

For those who like to enter battle with the game’s axe, a whole new set of combos are now at your disposal. along with a new Resolve mechanic that grants those who wait for three charges of their power swing the ability to ignore damage or interruptions.

The islands themselves have also gotten an update with new Aether Vents that will let players leap up sheer cliff faces and explore new parts of the Shattered Isles. Speaking of islands, some of those islands’ Behemoths have gotten adjusted as well, with reworks to the Shrike and Moonreaver in an attempt to make them “less predictable and punishing, and more exciting and effervescent.”

The update also has brought War Pikes for every behemoth in the game, an upgrade to the Unreal Engine which should increase both client and server performance, and a few slight adjustments to some of the other game’s monsters. Full patch notes can be found here.

Our Thoughts

We’re glad to see that the devs of Dauntless are…undaunted in their quest to continue to improve their game. If you’re a regular Slayer of the Shattered Isles, we’d love to hear your impressions of these new changes so be sure to share them below.

Source: official site

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